If you’re a small business owner, you’re no stranger to hard work, learning curves, and passion. However, most owners don’t capitalize on their most powerful asset: referrals, and a solid system. These are the people that can make or break your business.
Referrals are your networking system. It’s a group of friends, happy customers, and allies that are willing to vet you to clients. Other than that, it’s a recommendation display that shows a customer you’re worth investing their time and money into.
It seems simple enough, but most companies don’t implement this properly. Skip to the front of the line with our tips.
1. Make a Promise
Referrals mean nothing if you can’t deliver. The first and most basic step is to prove your worth. This means being amazing at your job.
Every business will be different, so make sure you’re delivering your best every day. Stay on top of market trends, communicate effectively, and be honest. With these tenets, you will build a reputation of integrity, and that in itself will speak volumes.
Bottom line: promise your referrals excellence.
2. Tailor Your Referrals
Doing good work is essential, but having the right people in your network can channel your reputation to the right audiences. You don’t want to be fishing in the wrong pond, so to speak. You will not reel in any prospects.
Use our incredible modern technology to build your network. Before you reach out, check their profiles and confirm you want these people in your network This includes coworkers, family, and academic colleagues.
After finding them, hand them exactly what you want to be referred. This means taking snapshots, documents, and other representations of your work, refining it to look the best, and then giving it to your referrers. If they know what to say to best highlight your product or service, then you can rest assured the delivery to prospective clients will go smoothly.
Important note: make sure to add why you are unique in the business. Your profile’s personal spin is the easiest way to connect with people.
For example, if you mention you’re a foodie in your Twitter profile, perhaps you can make a connection with a work prospect through your shared interest. A recipe exchange can be what stands out because you not only make a sale, you make a friend.
3. Be Part of the Process
Like anything, marketing is all about the give and take. If you want people to refer you, be willing to refer them back.
This way, you are building a trusted network, an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” system. It’s not just about making as many sales as possible but creating a series of trusting relationships (or building friendships) so that everyone’s needs are met. This involves being picky with whom you share your business with, where you ask for referrals, and then keeping your network up to date.
Make sure to show gratitude when you get successful work from your referral system. Follow-up with people that give you a hand by sending thank-you notes or thoughtful gifts.
One last note is to set your referral system in a measurable document. Either keep a notebook or use an app to track which referrals are giving value. If something isn’t working out as well as you hoped, don’t be afraid to trim your network down. After all, these techniques won’t work as well if you aren’t doing your part to maintain.